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Syscom helps aerospace industry shed unwanted pounds

In the aerospace industry, weight is a big deal. An industry rule of thumb is that for every pound you can take out of a big bird like the Boeing 737, you save $1 million over the life of a plane.

Syscom Advanced Materials is helping to save weight on the 200 miles or so of wiring in a typical plane by providing electrically conducive polymer/metal hybrid fibers that are significantly lighter than the typically-used nickel-copper wires.

The Columbus company was founded in December 2005. Its products are based on needs that founder Jar-Wha Lee recognized while working at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton and were developed under a federal Small Business Innovation Research grant, says Jeff Martin, Syscom's business development manager.

"He was doing some research there around making lightweight wires and he saw an opportunity for a business that people in the Air Force and aerospace industry were looking for," Martin explains.

The company's first product was Amberstrand Fiber, which is widely distributed to the industry in products crafted by Glenair, a California-based maker of electrical connector accessories.

"It's been on the market commercially for three years now. It's used heavily in the aerospace industry for EMI shielding (electromagnetic interference -- think of the buzz you get in your cell phone if it's too close to a radio)," Martin says.

The company recently introduced its new Liberator fiber. That product, which uses a different polymer than does Amberstrand, is still being evaluated with customers to determine its range of applications, Martin says.

"If you're comparing us to a nickel-coated copper wire, we're about 87 percent lighter and up to 26 times stronger than the copper wire. From a flexibility standpoint it's orders of magnitude greater."

The company's administrative offices and product development labs are housed at TechColumbus, with its manufacturing facility nearby. Martin reports that the company is growing, adding 12 new jobs in the past three years. The company now employs 15, he says, and expects to grow further through the year.

Source: Jeff Martin, Syscom Advanced Materials
Writer: Gene Monteith
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